LONDON: Mazhar Majeed, the agent of banned Pakistan cricketers Salman Butt and Mohammad Asif, who are standing trial in the spot-fixing case, told an undercover reporter that Test matches could be thrown for up to £1 million. Majeed also alleged that former Pakistan players, including Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis, Moin Khan and Ijaz Ahmed, were involved in match-fixing.
The testimony of Mazhar Mahmood, a journalist with the now-defunct News of the World tabloid, was as sensational as his sting operation, which exposed the spot-fixing scandal last year. During his stay in the witness box during the spot-fixing hearing underway in London, involving Butt and Asif, the court heard claims of Majeed as he tried to impress the undercover journalist.
Series of claims
The recording, played while Mahmood was in the witness box behind a screen to hide his identity, revealed how Majeed boasted of knowing tennis star Roger Federer and Hollywood actor Brad Pitt ‘very well’.
In addition, Majeed also claimed that match-fixing was going on ‘for centuries’ and former captain Wasim, recent coach Waqar, current assistant coach Ijaz and former wicket-keeper Moin were involved. The court also heard that Pakistan were to throw at least one limited-over international during the England tour last year, and only the timing of the expose seemed to prevent such a result from occurring.
“There is massive, massive money in this,” Majeed was heard to say in the recording played to Southwark Crown Court. Majeed said that for a ‘bracket’ – where bets are made on incidents during a certain period of play – the cost could be between £50,000 and £80,000.
“For a result, Twenty20 is about £400,000 and Test matches, depending on the situation, is about £1 million,” he said.
Majeed also tried to impress Mahmood with a series of boasts that included a meeting with the Pakistan Cricket Board Chairman (PCB) Ijaz Butt, and a potential meeting with former president Pervez Musharraf. The court also heard Majeed explaining in the recording what transpired during his alleged meeting with the PCB chairman.
“I had a meeting with him about doing a domestic tournament. What we were going to do was look at putting a sponsor with each region and do a Twenty20 league.”
According to the recording that the jury heard, Majeed even claimed that ‘Australian cricketers were the biggest match-fixers’.
He also bragged about managing 10 Pakistan players including, Kamran and Umar Akmal and Shoaib Malik, and having access to other international stars like Chris Gayle, Ricky Ponting, Harbhajan Singh and Yuvraj Singh.
‘Testimony damaging for banned players’
According to information gathered by The Express Tribune via an official close to the trial, the recordings shown during the trial confirmed that Majeed was not just an agent for Butt, Asif and Mohammad Amir.
“The players so far have maintained that Majeed was just their agent,” said the official. “The evidence provided by Mahmood confirmed Butt and Majeed were planning events for fixing a Test match and that’s a huge blow for the players’ defence.
“It was an authentic video recording and that can’t be denied by the cricketers.”
Meanwhile, a legal expert said Majeed’s claims on the involvement of former Pakistan cricketers in match-fixing does not carry any weight.
“They are just claims which are not alarming,” said the expert. “Any claim without evidence doesn’t carry weight.”
Wasim denies links
Meanwhile, Wasim has denied links with the agent. “Don’t know the guy,” said Wasim. “I’ve never seen [Majeed] before this issue was unearthed.” AFP (With additional reporting by Fawad Hussain)
Published in The Express Tribune, October 11th, 2011.
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